We must take ‘SIN’ seriously in our LIVES: Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock--of the herd and of the flock...Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting." (Lev. 1:1-2, 4-5)
The events in the book of Leviticus took place in the Wilderness of Sinai after the Israelites had received the Law at Mount Sinai and had built the tabernacle (Exodus 19–31, 35–40), which was sometime around 1400 A.D. This book is one of the most important books of the Old Testament since it provides a basic foundation of the principles of atonement and holiness that God requires from His people. Without such an understanding, much of the New Testament will not have a foundation to build upon. The book of Leviticus actually foreshadows the Person and work of Jesus Christ in the most remarkable manner, and God’s concern for His people and His desire for fellowship with them becomes very clear through an in-depth study of this book.
Leviticus is part of the covenant laws given by God to His people at Sinai. With these laws, God personally instructed the Israelites how to live before Him in ritual and moral purity. When they maintained their purity, God could live among them and they could approach Him in worship. God is holy, so He expects that His people must also be holy (11:45). However, since man is sinful, he cannot dwell with the holy God and any contact between the sinner and the divine holiness will result in death. It is for this reason that the atonement for sin through the offering of blood sacrifices are of prime importance.
There are three principles with regards to the atonement for sin that are illustrated through the blood sacrifices, and they include:
- The principle of Identification: Here, the repentant sinner puts his hand upon the head of the animal and thus identifies himself with it. In the similar manner, the redeemed sinner identifies himself with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through personal faith, illustrated through the ordinance of water baptism (Rom. 6:3–11).
- The principle of Substitution: Here, the innocent animal is reckoned sinful, suffers and dies instead of the sinner. This act foreshadows the substitutionary death of Christ on behalf of sinners (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).
- The principle of Propitiation: Here, the offering of the blood is the visible evidence that a life had been offered up for life is in the blood (Lev. 17:14). In the similar manner, the blood of Christ satisfies the holiness of God and allows a sinful man to be reckoned righteous in His sight (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:22).
Sadly, for many people today, sin is either a forgotten concept or, old-fashioned or, treated casually by a majority of people (including Christians who just mumble a prayer for forgiveness as a matter of habit). We need to remember that God takes our sin that seriously, and so should we. It took the very life and blood of His only Son Jesus Christ to pay the ultimate price for our sins. Let us take sin seriously in our lives today, and going forward!
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)